Top Ten Trends in Marketing Innovation

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by: Stefan Kolle

I’ve put together the 10 key trends I see for 2007 in Marketing Innovation. None of these are new, except for Net Promoter Scores which have only been around for a few years.

And, OK, I have to admit that some of these might end up being more wishful thinking then actual trends, but I get the disctinctive feeling many marketers are actually starting to wake up.


Authenticity, honesty, ‘realness’ should have been at the top of this list for the past 10 years – but it seems as if it is actually breaking through now. Too many great examples of how companies enhanced their image and standing with either the general public or a relevant group of advocates have emanated recently – Scobleizer has probably generated billions worth of goodwill for Microsoft, Direct2Dell executives ‘fessing up to making mistakes has taken the air out of the whole DellHell movement, and many a politician has recently saved himself by coming out straight away with the ‘oh man, I’m just human, please forgive me’ or ‘yup, I’m gay, so what’ approach.

Also the negative examples still abound, and this time around they are starting to hurt. We wont mention names *coughEdelmancough* *coughwalmartcough*

Net Promoter Scores

Sell your shares in market research agencies – their extensive research methods will go the way of the dinosaurs. Turns out, it all comes down to one question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend brand/product X to someone else?” As the results of this research can be directly tied to revenue growth, instead of intangible (and not-boardroom safe) fuzzies like brand recognition, watch the corporate world being taken by storm by NPS, following the likes of GE and Philips.

And isn’t it great that the interruption during dinner time will only last 10 seconds instead of 10 minutes?


What’s being said about me? Why is nobody talking about me? These are becoming core issues for every company. With the advent of ever better tracking tools for online conversations, it’s becoming indispensable to listen into those conversations, be it to monitor bad things happening out there so you can jump in and call corporate 911, or to find out that nobody really cares about you (which is actually even worse).

Time to go look at those Net Promoter Scores…

From segmentation to insights

‘Hey Cathy, I know you have a long distance relationship and are working only part-time to care for your newborn baby (which by the way has done it for your disposable income, for good), but I will still treat you the same as two years ago, when you were a job-starting, free-spending party animal. After all, you are still a 25-29 year old highly educated urban single female, aren’t you?’

‘Nuff said.


It may be a cynical choice by many companies, but green awareness is the trend-du-jour. If even WalMart is starting to promote eco-friendliness, where will it stop? As there is a lot of revenue waiting in this market – be it from selling eco-friendly goods at marked-up margins, or actually providing eco-technology, this one won’t go away.

Personally I don’t care if they move into this market for cynical reasons, it’s the end result that counts.


Marketers the world over are waking up to the fact that the older demographic is a major opportunity – and needs to be addressed in a different way then the 18-34 year olds. Mind you, different doesn’t mean being patronizing and playing on old age. We’re talking people who went to Woodstock and did all kinds of naughty things in their youth – don’t talk to them as if they are senile.

Maybe the fact that many advertising and marketing executives are Boomers themselves will help here 🙂


The lazy developers dream – let your customers come up with your products for you. The power of harnessing your customers’ insights is amazing. Once again you are connecting directly to the insights, wishes and beliefs of your customers, ensuring that you will hit a home-run with the rest of the world too.

And the funny thing is – they will do it for free, and even shout it out at the world for you, ‘hey, I helped develop the next Lego Robots, and man, they are cool’.

Experimentational budgets

Following the leaders like Unilever, P&G and Heineken, marketers realize that they will have to set a portion of their marketing budgets aside for well structured experiments. Developments in the digital domain are so fast and furious it’s not always possible to wait for full understanding. By experimenting in a controlled way companies can get insights at very attractive cost – and sometimes even strike gold.

You may not get 24 million viewing minutes for your Ronaldinho fake video on Youtube, but 10.000 views with your target of influencers might be worth just as much, especially if it only costs you 5.000 to do something for them.

The Return of the Soap

As the consumers aversion to traditional 30” spots is starting to hurt, TV channels and advertisers alike have to look for different models. Product placement and branded entertainment are starting to take up a serious position in their portfolios. A major advantage is that the convergence of TV and online is almost built into this model, as there are far less objections to the re-distribution of branded content throughout the internet then with traditional advertising-funded models.

Whether through podcasts, on-demand TV, the fact that the good guys always use Macs or by putting your music up on MySpace, you can be a star outside the networks, or together with them.

More CGA

Not only developers have their lazy-dream, marketers too: Consumer Generated Advertising. Let your customers not only be your Promoters, but actually make your advertising for you. As this advertising will always be based on what they REALLY love about you, it’s sure to strike home with other consumers.

Giving your advocates the tools to tell your story for you is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to enhance your position in the market. It’s also scary as hell, but don’t worry – the simple fact that you show the guts to even let your detractors pipe up like Chevy Tahoe did, will create a lot of goodwill.

Oh, and don’t be silly like FedEx or Apple and try to sue your evangelists.

Trend 11:

No more top ten lists 🙂

So, let me know, what do you think? Did I miss out on something? What won’t fly in 2007? Which ones will still be on the list for 2008? And most importantly – I’m hesitant to put a ranking on. I’d rather hear from you what you think will be the Nrs 1 to 10. Let’s discuss.

Addendum: Stampeding

I will address this issue in a separate article soon, but I can’t help feeling some despair at seeing how each new communication vehicle is being trampled by hordes of barbarians trying to compensate for their loss of GRP’s, and sometimes destroyed in the process. And my feeling is it will only get worse in the next year. So let’s call it a trend…

I guess, if there is a way to miss the point, marketers will find it.